Durham County

Durham deputy honored for heroism in rescuing two drowning girls

Sheriff Mike Andrews (pictured from left), Deputy David Earp, Major General Gregory Lusk and Command Sergeant Major John Swart are pictured at Earp’s National Guard awards ceremony.
Sheriff Mike Andrews (pictured from left), Deputy David Earp, Major General Gregory Lusk and Command Sergeant Major John Swart are pictured at Earp’s National Guard awards ceremony. Durham County Sheriff’s Office

The North Carolina National Guard has recognized Durham County Deputy David Earp for his heroism while responding to an emergency call involving two children at risk of drowning on September 20, 2015.

Earp was one of five recipients of the North Carolina National Guard’s Soldier and Airman Medal. Service members are eligible for this honor if their act of bravery saves lives at risk of their own.

Major General Gregory Lusk presented Deputy Earp with the prestigious award with the assistance of Sheriff Mike Andrews.

“Deputy Earp brings honor to the badge and military service,” said Sheriff Mike Andrews. “We’re proud of Deputy Earp and our ongoing partnership with the military. It’s our duty to support our servicemen and women who have made great sacrifices on behalf of us all.”

Earp was off-duty when he received a call for help at an apartment complex in Durham. Two children were at risk of drowning when he rescued them from a retention pond and performed life-saving measures.

His quick action helped to save the life of one child while the other was hospitalized in critical condition and eventually died. Earp credits his career as a law enforcement officer and a member of Detachment 1 Bravo, 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment of the N.C. National Guard for his unwavering commitment to his community.

Earp earlier received the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Medal of Valor and the Emergency Chaplains Hometown Hero Award in 2016.

In the incident in question, Alan Tysheen Eugene Lassiter of Raleigh flagged down passersby at the Audubon Lake apartment complex saying he was searching for his son, 7, who he claimed had been kidnapped. It wasn’t until later that Lassiter said that he’d drowned his 3- and 5-year-old daughters. He was misstaken.

The girls survived after being pulled from the water by Earp, who lived nearby. The boy had escaped and run for help. The 3-year-old later died from her injuries.

Lassiter was later charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the case.

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